Winning the Game: Ch. 2

Karissa’s next class was Exercise Science. It was a class that basically went into detail about each aspect of a human body, and how each aspect reacts to physical exercise. It was a class that actually interested Karissa.

Though she wasn't always the best at it, science had always interested her. She supposed it had been because of the nature and science all around her. The stars she could see at night as she looked up from her favorite spot on top of the main barn, the growing fruit trees and vegetable garden she and her mother tended to in the spring and summer, the horses, cows, and goats her family took care of, even her own body was a science. She had grown up fascinated by the science around her, and to know how each part of her was affected by exercise was interesting. 

Unfortunately, her next class was college algebra. She had never been good at math. She hadn’t been good at English either, but math was definitely more of a challenge. Karissa was hardly able to figure out what the date would be a week from the current day, and that was simply adding seven to the current date. The more complex equations in her algebra class made her brain want to explode. 

However, the only thing she dreaded more than her math class was her dorm room. Joyce was the worst. She seemed to look down upon Karissa just because she was a beautiful, proper-speaking blonde from Upper Manhattan while Karissa was raised on a ranch in a small town in Georgia most people didn't know the name of, and spoke with a southern drawl. She seemed to purposefully find reasons to torment Karissa, and regularly “sexiled” Karissa for the night while she spent the night with her latest random conquest. 

Thankfully, Karissa had many friends, and was always able to find a place to stay, but since all those friends were guys, things could get pretty awkward. She knew most of her guy friends liked her, so staying in their room for the night worried her. She didn’t want them to think they could be more than friends. 

Karissa had made a promise to her father that she wouldn’t date until after graduation. The last thing she wanted was for her father to be angry with her and force her to relocate to a university closer to home. 

At least that’s what she told everyone. 

But really, Karissa wasn’t all that interested in dating to begin with. She much preferred the thrill of chasing a ball on the field than a guy’s attention and affection. The entire idea of romance was confusing to Karissa. She didn’t see the point. What was so wrong with just being friends?

“Oh look what the farm dragged in,” Joyce said, rolling her eyes as Karissa walked through the door. “I can smell the manure on you.”

Great, Karissa thought, Aleah’s here too. Aleah was Joyce’s best friend, a big chested girl with long, dyed-blonde hair with pink ends, and a face covered in way too much makeup. While Joyce’s style was more conservative, they both looked like aspiring porn stars. For now, though, they were both majoring in Business with hopes set on starting their own makeup brand together. When they weren’t raving about beauty ideas, the two of them got plenty of laughs at Karissa’s expense.

“It’s not a farm. It’s a ranch,” Karissa corrected, “and I don’t smell.”

“Whatever,” Joyce said. “Aleah’s staying the night here, and I told her she could take your bed. You don’t mind, right?”

“Yes, I mind! It’s my bed! And this is the fourth time this week you’ve kicked me out of my own room!”

“I never said you had to leave. You can take the floor,” Joyce said.

“Why doesn’t Aleah take the floor?”

“Gross. There’s like bugs on the floor. Plus, it’s like super uncomfortable,” Aleah said.

“Yeah,” Joyce said. “Not everyone can sleep in gross places, Karissa. I thought you would be more used to it. I mean, being raised on a farm and everything.”

“For the last time, it’s a ranch! Not a farm! There’s a difference!”

“Like it matters.” Joyce rolled her eyes.

“You know, I’m getting real tired of your attitude, Joyce.”

Aleah stepped in front of Karissa, her arms crossed over her large chest. Aleah was a good several inches taller and wider than Karissa, but she’d be mistaken if she thought she was in any way stronger.

“Who do you think you are, cowgirl?” Aleah threatened. “You can’t talk to her like that.”

Under ordinary circumstances, Karissa would back down from the fight and retreat to a friend’s room for the night. These girls weren’t worth the hassle. But Karissa was angry, and tired of being treated like this. So instead, she knocked Aleah’s feet out from underneath her with one swift kick. Aleah fell to the ground, knocking her chin on the floor, and biting her lip.

“Oh my gawd! You attacked Aleah!” Joyce screeched.

“Oh my gawd! I’m bleeding!” Aleah cried as the cut on her lip began to bleed. “Get me away from this psycho! Let’s stay at my place tonight.”

“Okay, let me grab my things,” Joyce said, hurriedly packing a suitcase.

“Don’t think you’ll be getting away with this, cowgirl,” Aleah spat as she and Joyce finally left the room.

Karissa rolled her eyes, glad that at least for now she could have some peace and quiet.

She sat down on her bed, and pulled out her laptop. She checked her email to see that her parents had messaged her to see how she was doing, as they did every week. She messaged them back quickly before beginning the college algebra homework that would be due at the end of the week. She knew it would take her that long to get it done.

She managed to finish half of her math homework before deciding to stop. There was only so much struggle her brain could handle after all. It was late by this time, so she put her laptop away, tucked her homework inside her book, stuffed that under her bed, and then hopped off her bed to get ready for the night. She grabbed her bag of toiletries, a wad of night clothes, and a towel before stepping outside of her dorm room, and heading down the hall to the bathroom. 

There was only one bathroom on each floor. Unfortunately, scholarship funding only covered traditional on-campus housing which was a three level building filled with all girls, and only one bathroom on each floor. Karissa had gotten a rude awakening her first week when she found out that if you wanted to shower, you either had to wake up at the wee hours in the morning (before the sun rises) or the late hours of the night. Karissa preferred to take night showers as she would rather wash off the scum of the day than sleep in it for the night, so she had learned to stay up late enough to get a shower stall.

This time, there were more people in the bathroom than usual. When Karissa realized that all the girls in front of the mirror were dressed in the school colors, and happened to be painting their faces with the same colors, Karissa was eager to know what was going on.

“Is there a game tonight?” Karissa asked, and one of the girls turned to look at her.

“The game has been over for like an hour,” the girl said. “We’re getting ready for the after party. It’s like the biggest party of the year. You’re not going?”

“No, I have a lot of homework due tomorrow,” Karissa said.

“What a bummer,” the girl said. “Teachers usually give the students a break this week since it’s like the biggest night of the year. This party is like tradition. Seriously legendary. Are you new here? I’m Tori by the way.”

Karissa took a good look at Tori. She was a very beautiful girl with long, blonde hair in a waterfall of waves, deep brown eyes covered in makeup, shapely lips, and a pale, bony body. Her face was covered in paint of the school’s colors, her nails were painted to match her face, and she was wearing a thigh-skimming short dress with a deep v-neck that she probably thought made her look sexy yet really just highlighted the fact that she didn’t have any curves. She also had a mean look to her that reminded Karissa of Joyce, though that seemed to be an unfair judgement as Tori had been nothing but nice to her so far.

“I’m Karissa,” Karissa answered. “This is my second year here.”

“Oh, you’re a sophomore like me! That’s awesome! It’s too bad you’re not going to the party tonight. I know some totally hot guys who I could hook you up with, and the party is going to be so awesome. Everyone is going to be talking about it for like weeks. It’s really not something you want to miss.”

“I’ll think about it. I should really shower first, though, and it will take me a while to get ready. You should go ahead without me, and maybe I’ll see you there,” Karissa lied.

She was most definitely not going to this party. However, she would rather lie to this stranger than get into details about how stupid it was to be attending these parties. Tori was, after all, just a stranger whom Karissa would probably never see again. Therefore, there was no need to prolong this interaction.

“Awesome!” Tori grinned, and Karissa smiled faintly before getting into the shower.

Karissa took her time taking a shower. She didn’t want to get out only to have to face Tori again. She didn’t want to be told what she should wear or how she should do her hair and makeup because she didn’t want to feel like she had to get dressed for a party she wasn’t going to go to. Thankfully, by the time she was done showering, Tori and all the other girls who had been in front of the mirror were completely out of sight.

When Karissa was dressed in her dad’s old t-shirt that fit more like a nightgown than a t-shirt, she travelled down the hall back to her room. On the way, she could hear the loud, pulsing sound of a bass probably from the current hit club song coming from one of the rooms. A few girls came out, giggling in their too-short mini-skirts and too-tight, strapless tops. They almost knocked into Karissa as they tried to drunkly navigate their way down the hallway, arms linked together. Karissa quickly stepped out of their way, and almost ran into someone else walking toward her.

“Whoa. Oh, hey, Karissa,” Nolan said as he walked toward the party with his arm around another provocatively dressed girl. “That’s not what you’re wearing to the party, is it?”

“I’m not going to the party,” Karissa answered, noticing the annoyed look on Nolan’s date’s face, probably because of Nolan’s attention shifting to Karissa.

“Oh yeah. I forgot. You are dementedly opposed to pop music.”

“It’s corruptin’ our society.”

Nolan laughed. “Well, have a good night, I guess.”

“You too, Nolan.”

 Karissa rolled her eyes as she reached her dorm, and headed straight for her bed. Nobody understood her aversion to the most popular songs playing on the radio these days. Last year, in her english class, she’d had to write a persuasive essay and give a presentation on it. She’d chosen to write about her opposition to the current trends in the music industry, but her argument had completely gone over everyone’s heads. Nobody seemed to care that all the songs on the radio were all about partying, getting laid, getting drunk, and doing drugs. Where was the artistic value? Where was the meaning? Music was something sacred to Karissa, and modern artists were ruining it for her.

She sighed as she slipped her noise-canceling headphones over her ears, putting on her favorite playlist. As the melody of her favorite song filled her ears, she opened her laptop to finish working on her homework, happy for the solitude.

If only the peace could last forever.

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